Strict traffic laws, consumer education and advancing vehicle technology may all focus on some aspect of accident prevention and safety improvements. The ability to achieve these goals, however, depends on both technology and human choice.
Research into the effectiveness of some advanced vehicle technologies and how drivers behave when operating vehicles features these technologies indicate much work remains to be done.
The limitations of modern technology
AAA tested multiple vehicles featuring the combination of pedestrian detection and automatic braking systems to see how well they worked in preventing pedestrian accidents. Some tests were conducted in night conditions, especially since most pedestrian fatalities occur after dark. According to The Verge, the results of these tests were so poor that AAA declared the technologies completely ineffective at night.
In daytime conditions, pedestrian dummies were hit by test vehicles at least six out of 10 times depending on the test scenarios. Child-sized pedestrian dummies fared worse than their adult-sized counterparts.
The danger of human choice and trust
It may be natural to some degree for people to trust that the technologies built into their vehicles may help them be safer. That, however, does not negate the need for drivers to remain attention when behind the wheel.
The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety indicates that research reviewed by the Virginia Technology Transportation Institute found drivers of vehicles with lane keeping assistance and adaptive cruise control systems were significantly more likely to participate in non-driving activities when behind the wheel. In fact, the chance of engaging in things that create visual or manual distractions jumped by 80%.